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In July, Healthy Gains in Online Job Ads

In July, the number of job ads posted online, overall and in science-related categories, showed healthy growth after 2 flat months. But in June — the last month for which detailed unemployment data is available — flat job-ad gains and a substantial increase in the number of unemployed job-seekers result in a mixed picture of the health of the employment market. But overall there’s a steady upward trend in the strength of the job market for scientists. That, anyway, is our interpretation of the latest numbers from the Conference Board, released yesterday.

The Conference Board, a private business and economic research institute, provides these data, which are tracked monthly by Science Careers.

Online job ads

The
number of online job ads posted in June in the science-related categories we track increased by 28,800, or 2.0%, month over month. That’s a bit worse than June but far better than May, when the number of ads in these categories declined by 52,700.

Taking a
longer view reveals how far we’ve come over the last 12 months. In all the
categories we track, 331,300 more job ads were posted in July 2010 than a year earlier, an increase of more than 28%. Keep reading to learn how the
numbers break down by category.

The strongest science-related category in July was Architecture and Engineering, in which 11,000 new job ads were posted, for a 6.9% month over month increase. Computer and Mathematical Science also did well, adding 31,800 ads, an increase of 5.7%. Education, Training, and Library added 3.4%. Life, Physical, and Social Science added 1,100 job ads, or 1.9%.  

The only category that did badly in July was “health-care
practitioners and technical,” which fell by 18,400 ads — 3.1% — after a strong increase a month earlier.  

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Job market competitiveness

The Conference
Board computes a job-market competitiveness measure — a ratio of
online ads to the number of unemployed workers in the job market for various categories. However, the most up-to-date unemployment data, taken
from Bureau of Labor Statistics’ reports, are a month older than the
numbers for online job ads, so the ratios calculated below are for June
2010, while the number of employment ads reported above are for July 2010.

We report the ratio of job seekers to job ads in each category, so a lower number means more opportunity. 

As we reported last month, in May the number of job ads increased by a healthy 2.7%. But the new Conference Board report reveals that in science-related categories, these gains were more than offset by the number of unemployed job-seekers. The result: over all science-related categories, the ratio got a little bit worse, creeping up from 0.6 to 0.7 job seekers per online employment ad.  The best performances were in Biological, Physical, and Social Science, where the ratio of job-seekers to ads improved from 0.8 to 0.7. In Architecture and Engineering, the ratio fell from 0.9 to 0.8. In “Healthcare Practitioners and Technical” the ratio got slightly worse — from 0.4 up to 0.5. In the two remaining categories the ratio was unchanged: Computer and Mathematical Science (stable at 0.4 job-seekers per ad) and Education, Training, and Library, where the ratio — always much worse than the other categories we track — stable at 4.3. (The ratio of job-seekers to job ads for this category has reached as high as 7.0 in recent months, peaking last September.)

Finally, let us note that except for Education, Training, and Library (which includes science-related jobs but others as well), the ratio of job-seekers to ads in all the science-related categories we track is always far better than the average across the whole economy. In June, the average for these science-related categories was 0.7 job-seekers per online job ad. For the economy as a whole, the ratio was 3.5, which is slightly better than May’s 3.6.

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Jim Austin Tweets as @SciCareerEditor.